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Marguerite Manteau-Rao Headshot

Helping Americans with Pocketbook, May Succeed Where Green Talk Failed

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It's ironic. I manage a green blogging community. I give to green causes. My friends ask me for advice about green living. I 'tweet' nonstop about green matters. My Linkedin profile says I am a green expert. I am courted by green social networks. I go straight for the green videos on YouTube. And I was just invited to blog here at Huffington Post Green. To the outside world, I am as green as can be. So why is it, that I am getting more and more turned off by the g-word? The real truth is I can't quite live up to the green challenge. Too many should's and shouldn'ts, and didnt's. And more work than I can handle, on top of my daily responsibilities as a mom, a wife, a worker, and a friend. I am no green saint, only human. For now the green mantra is still mostly in my head, and has yet to translate into consistent actions.

If you want me to live a green life, you've got to approach me differently. Take 'green', whatever that means, and break it down into smaller pieces that I can understand and chew on. Then, talk to me, and ask me how I feel, and what's on my mind. And connect the two, starting from my point of view, not the other way around. Rising food and gas prices, making monthly mortgage payments, keeping my health insurance, having a reliable source of income, doing with less, these are the things I worry about the most. And I only have so much space in my brain, for worries.

Recent polls lead me to believe that I am speaking for the majority of Americans. According to a Gallup Survey, only 28% Americans claim to have made "major changes" in their lifestyles to protect the environment. The reality is probably even less, as people tend to overestimate their behaviors. Another Gallup Survey gets into the reasons for such a lack of enthusiasm. Ahead of environmental concerns (40%), are other more pressing worries, similar to my owns: the economy (60%), healthcare (58%), crime and violence (49%), and energy (47%). We are currently way down at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, where basic needs for food, shelter, and security of employment, resources, and health are being threatened. Lots of pain there.

This represents a unique opportunity for the environmental cause. People are most amenable to change during times of crisis. Ask any psychotherapist. Rather than pushing a direct green agenda, a more effective approach is to grab people where they are hurting the most, at the pocketbook. Following Steve Bishop's lead, let us engage citizens around ways that they can save money, some of which may also be good for the environment. Finding the cheapest places for gas, biking and walking more, planting a vegetable garden, clipping coupons, telecommuting, going easy on the meat, unplugging appliances, . . . Not even mentioning green. You get the idea.

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